misty march morning

Stand of timber just west of my parents by my buddy Jim’s


Wood heat.

I grew up with it.

My parents still heat their  farmhouse with wood,  and dad is 84.

I love wood heat.

I love everything that goes along with heating with wood,  the smell of wood chips and chainsaw oil.  Working up a good sweat. The satisfaction of a nicely stacked pile of wood. The sense of security, knowing you have enough wood laid up, for the whole winter…come what may…. and the smell of a hickory fire on a cold fall morning….

I just got back in the house this morning after a brisk one mile walk to the corner…it’s up hill the last 1/2 of the route….  I found myself thinking about that timber just west of my buddy Jim’s and the day he and I cut wood.   We had just a few weeks until the bulldozers  showed up to push all the trees into a pile then burn them.

Oak,  hickory, live trees, dead trees, 20 acres of  mature timber.

Land prices had sky rocketed and suddenly this “worthless” timber, was now worth $500 an acre per year…for corn ground that is.

As Jim and I walked the ground that Saturday morning, trying to decide which trees would be the easiest to get to, I came across a downed bee tree.    Wild honeybees were going in and out of the cracks of this massive old oak.  Jim and I decided to leave well enough along.  There were enough other trees to cut up, we didn’t need to be stirring up a bee hive….literally  😉

Well, that was  three years ago.    Since then, the bottom dropped out of the corn market.  Land is no longer worth $500 an acre to rent….

and that beautiful stand of timber,

it is no longer,  except in my memory.

Makes me wonder if those wild honey bees survived.

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My One Weakness


Farm fresh eggs are my one weakness.

(Ever see Larkrise to Candleford?… remember Doras Lane?)

Like I was just saying..farm fresh eggs are my one weakness…

What’s the point of living on a hundred year old farmstead if you don’t have chickens, right?

Nothing quite as romantic to me as pulling into the driveway and seeing the girls foraging under the apple trees.

Problem is,  they have recently gotten lazy and instead of returning to the nest to lay their eggs, they have started laying them in the most random places, so  when I do find an egg outside the nesting area  I have no idea how old it is.

We quickly went from getting 3 and 4 eggs a day to 1  or two….maybe.

I know I could refire up the “chicken tractor” but that too has it’s own set of issues.

Another problem I started having  with the girls is one of them  has  acquired a taste for farm fresh eggs.  Went to gather eggs, a few weeks ago and all I found were  a few broken pieces of shell and egg yoke.


Since they are not supervised 24/7, I have no way to figure out which of them is doing it.

I have never had much success in breaking the egg eating habit in chickens  once it got started.

About the only thing that works is to  find, then eat the culprit.

Come to think about it, oven baked chicken like my grandma used to make ranks right up there as my one weakness.

When I was younger (12 yrs old )  I would get to stay over night with Grandpa and Grandma every Wednesday night.  We’d moved to the farm by then, and I was still taking piano lessons in town.  Since I’d miss the bus to get home,  Grandpa and Grandma would invite me to spend the night with them. Every week she would fix my favorite meals…Oven fried chicken was at the top of the list..then after supper Louise a widow lady who lived across the street would come over and the four  us would play  pinochle.

To this day, whenever I make grandma’s chicken or home made rye bread I think of her.  Of all the people in the world whom I have ever known, she is one of the few people I know who love me for who I am.

Grandma’s Oven Baked Chicken Recipe:

Dip individual pieces of chicken (either skin on or skin off) in egg wash..

Then coat them with crushed Ritz crackers/ or any crackers for that matter.

Side note:  I will usually grab whatever kind we have on hand, put the whole roll into a gallon plastic bag/ run the rolling pin over it until they are good and pulverized.   I will also add a little bit of seasoning salt to the cracker crumbs in the bag…

Brown the chicken in  frying pan….normally use Olive oil but have also been known to brown in butter or vegetable oil.  (Just a minute or two on each side…not wanting to actually cook the chicken/ just give them a nice looking crust)

Place the browned chicken pieces into a Pyrex bowl with lid or whatever container you like to bake in….Oven is set @ 350..for about 45 minutes.

Bake until tender.

I usually tell anyone who asks, that the chicken didn’t turn out.

That way there are  leftovers.

Wife finally figured me out a few years ago…

it took a while. she is such a kind trusting person 🙂

Now she knows if it really tastes like “you know what”, she better have a taste.



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“Mi Amo es DM”

Daughter # 3 married into the Hispanic culture two years ago. We love her hubby.    She (daughter #3) speaks less espanol than I do, 😉  and by the sound of it, doesn’t have any big plans to learn it…. Her extended family runs the gamut from fluent English to no speak English at all…

Last weekend their daughter (our granddaughter) turned one.  Daughter #3  and hubby decided to throw a birthday party for her.  Not wanting to offend anyone, it turned into quite a large guest list.

As I sat across the table from Edwardo,  he and I attempted to have a conversation.  In halting English he introduced me to his family...”This is my son…. and this is my wife.”

At this point, in the conversation, Mrs DM scooted down in the chair next to me and the conversations continued.  Edwardo, as it turned out, was able to understand much of what I said.  He told us his wife did not speak English, however his son Jordon, was your typical American 10 yr old.

Lots of laughs.

That conversation and another one with a shy 6th grade girl, who rarely talks, but opened up to Mrs DM and I when no one else was around were two of the highlights of our trip.

Read the following true story in the latest Readers Digest after the party.  Immediately takes me back to the feelings I had sitting around the birthday table last weekend…

A Random Act Of Roadside Assistance by Justin Horner

During this past year, I’ve had three instances of car trouble.  Each time these things happened, I was disgusted with the way most people hadn’t bothered to help.  One of those times, I was on the side of the road for close to three hours with my friend’s big Jeep.  I put signs in the windows, big signs that said NEED A JACK, and offered money. Nothing.  Right as I was about to give up and start hitching, a Mexican family a van pulled over, and the father bounded out.

He sized up the situation and called for his daughter, who spoke English.  He conveyed through her that he had a jack but that it was too small for the Jeep, so we would need to brace it.  Then he got a saw from the van and cut a section out of a big log on the side of the road.  We rolled it over and put his jack on top, and we were in business.

I started taking the wheel off, and then, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron – snapped the head clean off.  No worries :  He handed it to his wife, and she was gone in a flash down the road to buy a a new tire iron.  She was back in 15 minutes.  We finished the job, and I was a very happy man.

The two of us were filthy and sweaty.  His wife produced a large water jut for us to wash our hands with.  I tried to put a $20 dollar bill in the man’s hand, but he wouldn’t take it, so instead I went up to the van and gave it to his wife as quietly as I could.  I asked the little girl where they lived.  Mexico, she said.  They were in Oregon so Mommy and Daddy could pick cherries for the next few weeks.  they they were going to pick peaches, then go home.

After I said my goodbyes and started walking back to the jeep, the girl called out and asked if I had lunch.  When I told her no, she ran up and handed me a tamale.

I thanked them again,walked back to my car, and opened the fiol on the tamale, and what did I find inside?  My $20 bill!  I ran to the van.  The father saw the $20 in my hand and just started shaking his head no.  With what looked like great concentration, he said in English, “Today you, tomorrow me.”

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Picture taken yesterday of my son John with his son Owen watching my dad pick corn.  October 5, 2016  DM

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What The World Needs Now, More Than Ever, If That Is Possible…


Stopped by the self-serve apple wagon at noon to check on things and spotted a note in the money jar.  (See above)

It made my day.  DM

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Picture of our Honey crisp apples

I stopped by our self serve apple wagon an hour ago to check on sales… One of the honey crisp that had a blemish in it, so I removed it from the cooler and stuck it in my pocket.   It wasn’t that bad of a blemish so I decided to eat it as I continued on my errands.  Three minutes later, I noticed the texture of the apple seemed a little “off” so I  pulled the apple out of my mouth to take a peek.

(By this time, I had eaten 90% of the apple, all except for the core and the ends..)

Everything looked just fine….until I turned it over.

There was an inch and one half  long  open worm tunnel…



What is the grossest thing you’ve ever eaten? (either by accident or on purpose.)  I promise I won’t tell anyone! 😉 DM

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Eating Alone

I was just outside in the garden picking cherry tomatoes for salsa and picking up windfall apples in the orchard when a poem came to mind.  I couldn’t remember the title, nor the name of the poet…just a couple of lines buried in the body of the poem.

I had to find it. (I did)  It made me think about my relationship with my dad.

I know what triggered it.

Today  several of us got together to celebrate my mom and dad’s 60th wedding anniversary.  I would occasionally glance over at mom and dad at the end of the table  and think…I wonder just how many more anniversaries we will be able to celebrate with the two of them.

Here’s the poem…

Eating Alone by Li-Young Lee

I’ve pulled the last of the year’s young onions. The garden is now bare.  The ground is cold, brown and old.  What is left of the day flames in the maples at the corner of my eye.  I turn, a cardinal vanishes.  By the cellar door, I wash the onions, then drink from the icy metal spigot.

Once, years back, I walked beside my father among the windfall pears.  I can’t recall our words.  We may have strolled in silence.  But I still see him bend that way- left hand braced on knee, creaky-to lift and hold to my eye a rotten pear.  In it, a hornet spun crazily, glazed in slow, glistening juice.

It was my father I saw this morning waving to me from the trees.  I almost waved to him, until I came close enough to see the shovel, leaning where I had left it, in the flickering deep green shade.

White rice steaming, almost done.  Sweet green peas friend in onions.  Shrimp braised in sesame oil and garlic.  And my own loneliness. What more could I, a young man, want.


View of our orchard and Libby the Great

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